Washington, DC and Tallahassee, FL - Tuesday the League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVFL) filed a complaint against the Governor and Secretary of State for refusing to extend voter registration in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
As the storm threatened the peninsula, the state of Florida issued evacuation orders to 1.5 million residents and closed government offices in order to protect Florida and its citizens. However, the storm hit, just days before the October 11 voter registration deadline and effectively put an end to voter registration. Despite requests from the League and others, Florida Governor Richard Scott refused to extend the registration period. On Monday a federal judge did extend voter registration until the court could have a hearing on a lawsuit filed by the Florida Democratic Party.
The League’s suit raises additional issues for the judge to consider, including the fact that the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) provides that the registration cutoff may be no more than 30 days before an election. The complaint requests that the deadline be extended to account for the lost days and weekend of voter registration, up to and including October 18.
“Decades of experience tell us that the days leading up to the deadline – including the weekend – are the most crucial part of the registration calendar, and we have lost precious time,” said Pamela Goodman, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “Extending the voter registration deadline to make up for the days lost to Hurricane Matthew is the only way to give every Floridian who lives in the path of the hurricane an equal chance to participate in this year’s elections.”
Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, pointed out that “the NVRA protects voters all across the country, so it is important for the state of Florida to follow the law. Protecting against the storm was critical to public safety, and extending voter registration is the only fair thing to do to protect the right to vote.”
The League is represented by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and pro bono counsel Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP.
A court hearing is scheduled on the lawsuit filed by the Florida Democratic Party for this Wednesday, October 12, at 10 a.m. ET.
Contact: Sarah Courtney
(202) 263–1332 (office)
(917) 913–1994 (cell)